Public Relations

Our latest assignment in presentation skills was to write and present a three-minute speech about our greatest achievement.  Topics ranged anywhere from excelling in sports to performing in front of a large crowd.  The speeches were great, yet my peers and I all said the same thing about the assignment – writing speeches about yourself is EXTREMELY difficult. 

You would think that being in the business of PR, writing and talking is something that comes naturally to us.  For the most part, it does, but somehow, writing and talking about yourself is one of the hardest things to do.

I think it has a lot to do with the voice – how can you best articulate yourself without sounding arrogant or incompetent?  What about the audience – do you find it harder when you are presenting to peers or to strangers? 

What do you think it is that holds you back?  Why is talking about yourself so hard to do?


A few weeks ago, I dined at the newly renovated Moxie’s Restaurant at Fairview Mall.  I won’t go through the entire ordeal but will tell you that it was such an experience that it drove me to writing my FIRST letter of complaint and to tell everyone that I knew about the horrible service.  I was basically starting a movement to boycott the Moxie’s at Fairview Mall (talk about bad PR). 

bad service

In my letter, I outlined the entire night from start to finish and sent it off to the manager of the restaurant.  I really didn’t know what kind of response to expect as it was my first letter of this kind.  The next day I received an email that not only addressed my concerns, but offered a form of reimbursement as well.

I have yet to return back to use my certificate and give the restaurant another shot at satisfying and impressing me (and I will be sure to fill you in on the details when I do return), but what I was impressed with is the level of service the manager gave with his letter and his offering.  More importantly, looking at it from a PR point of view, the way in which he communicated his key messages as well as Moxie’s key messages.

The very purpose of our company is to give our guests an experience that leaves them feeling better when they leave our restaurant than they felt when they first arrived.  We clearly missed the mark by a large degree last Friday evening.  We will apply the tough lessons from this series of inappropriate events to ensure we provide an excellent dining experience for all of our guests in the future.

The letter was obviously longer than this bit I have provided, but this section was what got my attention. As a PR student, I am impressed as he has successfully reiterated key messages, but as a customer, the inclusion of the Moxie’s corporate speak irked me a tad. By wearing both hats, I see both the pros and cons to this, but as a budding PR professional, it makes me worry that what we do will irk when it is supposed to reassure.

Perhaps I am crazy, or perhaps there are others who share the same feelings?

CNW Group Tour & Tips

Through the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS), I had the opportunity of visiting the CNW Group (formerly known as Canada NewsWire) last Friday.  It was a great experience as we not only got to tour the office, but were given a very informative presentation on what the CNW Group does, as well as general tips and comments on developing a successful news release. 

Here are some key tips courtesy of the CNW Group:

Path of a News Release

When writing a news release, there are two important questions you must ask yourself
1.  Why are you sending out the release?
2.  What do you want your exposure to do?

Once you have answered these two questions, you need to start thinking of getting your message out to who, how, where and when.  You must remember that each medium wants it sent out differently (TV is visual, send out some b-roll with audio – make their jobs easier and there will be a better chance of getting picked up). 

You will also have better chance of getting picked up if you can add a photo for not only TV but for print as well. 

Here are the CNW Group’s


  1. be creative!
  2. tight and bright – big images in tight shots
  3. use lighting and colour
  4. people, yes – crowds, no
  5. interact with work environment
  6. a shot of “The Shop Floor” is more interesting than the “Grip and Grin”
  7. product shots are good but computer screen shots are not
  8. action and reaction is better than stagnant and still
  9. cutlines – who (from left to right), what, when, where & why
  10. let a professional photographer take your photos

A few last tips:

  • always try and include more than one photo with your release for better pick-up
  • the business section is always hungry for photos
  • international news releases – make sure to have the contact person available for comment (keep the time difference in mind – make sure that person will be awake)
  • media monitoring – it is not enough to count how many times your story gets picked up (who picked it up, how was it used, was it an exclusive mention, etc.)

A big thank you goes out to Michelle, Jeff and Laura of the CNW Group for their time and hospitality as well as CPRS Toronto and Kristen Marano of CPRS’s Student Steering Committee. We all had a blast and learned a great deal!And a personal tip to give out:  Sign up and attend everything!  These sessions are always informative and fun – and are GREAT places to network!  Check out the CPRS Toronto website for upcoming events.